6/5/86 (edited, September 16, 1998, posted, September 17, 1998)
Looking at the first half of this chapter, I must conclude that Clinton, despite his extremely wicked behavior with China, with "fund-raising" and with women, will remain in his place of authority. In my opinion (and I pray that I am wrong), we will see a lot of smoke and dust from those responsible to hold him accountable to the truth; however, they will not remove him as required by simple honesty and integrity. And those who fail in that responsibility will be held accountable to "the people" very little, if at all.
The second half of this chapter, vv. 8-16, tells us why the Gospel Church of the Lord Jesus Christ has lost its strength to bring about godly social change.
Let us follow Hosea's argument.
In this chapter, as with the whole book, the Lord has a controversy with his people. He is not here rebuking or preaching to the heathen, for they can be expected to act as heathen. He is speaking very strongly to his own people.
I. Vv. 1-7
V. 1, he lays out his charge against them. The thief and troops of robbers. Here he tells us that his people are controlled by all kinds of wickedness, both secret (thief) and open (troop of robbers) sins.
Though their sins call for God's righteous judgment upon the people, his desire was to heal his people. He would have healed his people but the iniquity, wickedness, falsehood, theft, all prevented the healing.
V. 2, he says, "Why don't they understand that I know what goes on in secret."
The context of the passage tells us that they kept up the outward show of the Christian religion, so they could give the proper religious impression. They knew all the proper words and actions to give a Christian appearance. They went to all the proper church services, carrying their Bibles for all to see, maybe even the KJV. They had a problem, however, with connecting knowing with doing.
And they consider not in their hearts that God sees the truth of the matter, and will reward them openly for what is done in secret. They might even think that God does not care what goes on in private, refusing to acknowledge that God brings to pass the fruit of their thoughts. (Ecc. 10:20, Jer. 6:19, Ezek. 8:3-12, Hos. 4:6, 6:6, Mt. 6:4ff., 10:26, Lk. 12:2, 3.)
The Lord knows the secrets of the heart. He knows what goes on in the bedroom, in private when no one else is watching. The public worship is not what impresses him. It is the private worship which gains his mercy and grace.
He desired to show mercy, but he remembered their private motives, actions and gods; these prevented his mercy, and they reaped as they sowed. (Gal. 6.)
V. 3, the king is glad when he hears of evil in his people, for he is evil. Civil authority finds pleasure in wickedness: right is no longer good; good is called bad, and bad is called good; good is punished and evil is protected, even rewarded; God is no longer glorified and exalted as God; rather than civil authority being a terror to evil, as required by God, it is a terror to good works.
Evil is exalted because the people enjoy evil. The law breaker is protected and the good man ignored. Professing love for the people, those in authority rejoice in iniquity rather than being grieved over it. (Isa. 10:1, 5:20, Rom. 1:21, 31, 32, 13:3.Could be that they "flatter the wicked king, Jeroboam, above God." Geneva.)
V. 4, He continues: They are all... "All" does not refer to the king and princes, but to the whole nation. (Keil.)
Immoral, adulterous relationships are common place as the people burn out of control with lust. The general population is a captive to the fallen lusts of the flesh. Rather than attempting to control the wickedness, those in authority are glad because it permits them to be wicked.
An oven heated... The fiery passions of the nation burn like a baker's oven. Lust and lewdness burn out of control everywhere. There is no place one can look without being confronted with lust and lewdness: "entertainment," advertisement, recreation, &c., are all based in lust and lewdness. Why? Because they are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker...
The Lord's controversy here is not with the heathens; it is with his own people. His own people no longer see anything wrong with lewdness, with taking off their clothes in public, with exposing their bodies and arousing sensual desires in others.
The lust is burning as a fire and the civil authority, rather than doing what it can to put out the fire, join with with those who have the fire.
Ungodliness and wickedness of all kinds burn in the hearts of the people. They keep up their outward show of piety, but their hearts burn with lusts of all kinds. They proudly carry their Bibles to church so everyone can see it, yet their hearts burn.
Vv. 5-7. "Both king and princes are addicted to debauchery (ver. 5)." (Keil.) These "rulers" are to be the supreme guardians of the law; the offices of civil authority which they represent were established by God to control wickedness. But rather than controlling wickedness, they were consumed by it. (Pr. 6:27, 8:14ff., Ecc. 10:17, Rom. 13.)
Unable to remain under control, the burning will bursts forth, and consumes everyone, even the judges. The very ones who are ordained by God to keep the corruption under control are controlled by it. The ones ordained by God --- kings, princes, judges, religious leaders --- to keep the burning under control are, instead, devoured by the fire.
Rather than trying to put out the fire, the "leaders" try to keep it hidden and behind closed doors. But God knows what lies behind their actions of "public piety."
They are all hot as an oven and rather than society working to put out this devastating fire, it throws more fuel upon it.
There is none among them that calleth unto me. Everyone is caught in the fire. The prophet warns them, but no one listens nor believes him.
They all say, "I keep up my formal worship, so God doesn't care how I act or dress on my own time." (6:6.)
It can be compared to the work place --- at work, you belong body and soul to the company, and you are expected to be totally loyal to the cause. After work, the company does not care what you do. However, we as Christians are to be at work' at all times.
V. 7, a final comment on this section:
By their doing God has deprived them of all good rulers. (Geneva)
Ver. 7. They are all hot as an oven, &c.] Eager upon their idolatry, or burning in their unclean desires after other men's wives; or rather raging and furious, hot with anger and wrath against their rulers and governors, breathing out slaughter and death unto them:
and have devoured their judges; that stood in the way of their lusts, reproved them for them, and restrained them from them; or were on the side of the king they conspired against, and were determined to depose and slay:
all their kings have fallen; either into sin, the sin of idolatry particularly, as all from Jeroboam the first did, down to Hoshea the last; or they fell into calamities, or by the sword of one another, as did most of them; so Zachariah by Shallum, Shallum by Menahem, Pekahiah by Pekah, and Pekah by Hoshea; see 2Ki 15:1-38. So the Targum,
"all their kings are slain:"
[there is] none among them that calleth unto me; either among the kings, when their lives were in danger from conspirators; or none among the people, when their land was in distress, either by civil wars among themselves, or by a foreign enemy; such was their stupidity, and to such a height was irreligion come to among them! (Gill, Online Bible.)
1) God cares about our private lives as much as he does our public lives. The call of Hosea is for those called by his name to live in private what they profess in public. God is concerned about our Christian piety' at all times, in public worship and in private worship. He is concerned about consistency.
We cannot come this close without hitting the Internet. The most profitable sites on the web are the pornography sites. To these sites, men and women burning with lust can browse in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Yet at the proper times, they will be at the right place at the right time, Bible in hand, going to hear a "preacher" who will not disturb their comfort in sin.
(Personal Note: we have lost families over my preaching against Prozak, and other drugs, substituted for one's personal walk with the Lord in his word and prayer; over my stand for the KJV, &c. The general "Christian" consensus is having enough religion to sooth the conscience while remaining comfortable in the heart's desires.)
2) Eager for the "freedom" to pursue their unclean desires after other men's wives or other women's husbands, they devoured their judges who stood in their waythat is, they acquired leaders who would not restrain their evil desires. One of the key doctrines of Scripture is that God gives leaders after the hearts of the people. (Jer. 5:31, 6:13, 19, &c.) One of the more interesting passages along this line is,
1 Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. 2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him. (Isa. 24:1, 2.)
The Lord tells us that the problem is at the bottom, not the top. Leaders are corrupt because the people are corrupt; masters are corrupt because servants are corrupt; sellers are corrupt because buyers are corrupt; bankers are corrupt because borrowers are corrupt. Furthermore,
And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. (Hosea 4:9.)
The Lord raises up corrupt "leaders" in judgment for corruption in the people. (See also, Ecc. 12:14, Isa. 3:10, 9:14ff, Jer. 5:31, 8:10ff., Pr. 5:22, &c.) There are two terrible things that can happen to individuals or to a social order:
A) the Lord would simply let sin take its natural course that is, turn the people over to leaders who are controlled by the same fallen lusts as are the people.
B) the Lord would fail to raise up godly people to pray:
As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. (Dan. 9:13. See Lev. 26.)
3) We see in this chapter that God's delight is not in judgment and vengeance against sin. His desire is to heal and to show mercy.:
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. (Micah 7:18.)
The people were sick to the death in sin. But the illness was not so bad that God could not heal them.
Jeremiah 8:22 Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered? Jeremiah 46:11 Go up into Gilead, and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured.
People can look everywhere for healing, but until they look to the Lord, there is no healing. People who perish in their sins can blame no one but themselves, for the Lord offers healing: I would have healed them. The people bared the door against the Lord.
Through the power of the gospel, we can have "like priest, like people":
14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. (Heb. 2:14-18.)
4) Our delight should be in "healing," not in judgment and vengeance. We should not delight or be glad when we see the results of one's sins come to pass.
What do we delight in? Mercy or judgment and vengeance? God delighteth in mercy not in judgment and vengeance. His delight is when people turn from sin and to him, so he can "shower" his mercy upon them. Sad to say, many times we delight in being antagonistic, anything but merciful. We rejoice when we see judgment or vengeance come upon others, saying, "they are getting what they deserve."
Spiritual adultery, turning from God, and physical adultery go together. A society's attitude toward God will be revealed in its attitude toward morality. A society's attitude toward God will be revealed in its leaders.
In other words, folks can claim to be a Christian with a genuine love for God with their every breath, but if their attitude toward sin in general, morality in particular, is not God's attitude, then they are clearly enemies of God. The farther society turns from God, the more common will be immorality of all kinds, regardless of the Christian words.
Debauchery of all kinds in authority will not be changed until there is a genuine Christian conversion in attitude among the people. How many destroyed families am I personally familiar with because co-workers (even in close "religious" relationships) have burned with lust one for another?
Thus, I would be extremely, and pleasantly, surprised if Clinton had to leave office over his wickedness. At this point in history and from my experience in working with people, Clinton simply reflects the lust that burns in the heart of the average person. It is the Lord who will leave him where he is as a reproach upon a nation burning with lust.
II. Vv. 8-16
The prophecy changes from dealing with the internal sins of the nation to the external sins. The general attitude of the population is always reflected in the public policies of the nation. Israel is here in her land; he is not yet dispersed among the nations as would be done by Assyria. Israel had been called by God to be separate from the pagan nations around him:
24 But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people. 25 Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. 26 And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine. 27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them. (Lev. 20:24-27. See also, Titus 2:14, 1 Pet 1:15, 16, )
Israel was to be God's holy people among the heathen nations. Instead, Israel mixed himself among the nations: Rather than influencing the pagan nations for the Lord God of his redemption, he learned and followed the idolatrous ways of the heathen nations:
34 They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them: 35 But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. 36 And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. 37 Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, 38 And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. 39 Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions. 40 Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance. 41 And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them. 42 Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand. 43 Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity. 44 Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry: 45 And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies. 46 He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives. 47 Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise. 48 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD. (Ps. 106:34-48. See also, Ezk. 23.)
Elijah challenged the people to separate from Baal, and follow the Lord. (1 Kgs. 18:21.) The books of Judges and Kings record Israel's willingness to absorb the ways of the surround pagan nations. The inward apostasy of the people led to the outward apostasy of the nation.
Vv. 8, 9 (Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain... Jer. 10:2, 3a.).
1. The condition they were in. God was not to them, in his judgments, as a moth and as rottenness; they were silently and slowly drawing towards the ruin of their state partly by the encroachments of foreigners upon them: Strangers have devoured his strength, and eaten him up; they have wasted his wealth and treasure, lessened his numbers, and consumed the fruits of the earth. Some devoured them by open wars (as#2Ki 13:7, when the king of Syria made them like the dust by threshing), others by pretending treaties of peace and amity, in which they extorted abundance of wealth from them, and made them pay dearly for that which did them no good, but which afterwards they paid more dearly for, as#2Ki 16:9. This Ephraim got by mingling with the heathen, and suffering them to mingle with him; they devoured that which he rested upon and supported himself with. Note, Those that make not God their strength(#Ps 52:7) make that their strength which will soon be devoured by strangers. They were thus reduced partly by their own mal-administrations among themselves: Yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him (are sprinkled upon him, so the word is), that is, the sad symptoms of a decaying declining state, which is waxing old and ready to vanish away, and the effects of trouble and vexation. Cura facit canos--Care turns gray. The almond-tree does not as yet flourish, but it begins to turn colour, which speaks aloud to him that the evil days are coming, and the years of which he shall say, I have no pleasure in them, #Ec 12:1, 5. (MH, Online Bible.)
He hath mixed himself:
Mixed..., leagues with idolaters, and adopted their pagan pratices.
Cake not turned..., a cake burnt on one side and unbaked on the other, and so uneatable; an image of the worthlessness of Ephraim. (JFB)
1) Cake not turned; neither hot nor cold, halted between two opinions, between God and Baal. The outward apostasy consisted of mixing with the pagans and adapting their ways. Many times, Israel had been warned to making and keep a complete break from the heathens. (Exo. 10:7, 23:33, 34:12, Deut. 7:16, Judges 2:3, &c.) They slowly absorbed heathen thoughts and pratices.
2) The seemingly "innocent" mixing with the heathens caused huge problems for Israel. Unknowingly, the mixing was slowly costing Israel his strength. Because judgement did not take place speedily, they felt they were in good shape with the Lord.
Strength = specifically,
Strength, of soil i.e. produce, Gn 4:12 (J), Jb 31:39; (Ho 7:9 v. 1c supr.);=wealth Pr 5:10 Jb 6:22. (#3581, BDB, 471.)
strength, power, ability, might, force, substance. Capacity
to act, understood both in physical and figurative terms. The
word, a noun, appears 126 times in the OT. It is relatively evenly
distributed in its occurrences, the most in any one book being
twenty in Job. It also occurs twelve times in Isa and Dan, and
eleven times in Ps. The onlY cognate language in which this root
appears is Arabic where it has the verbal idea "to batter
In a static sense koah suggests the capacity to endure, as of a stone (Job 6:12), but more commonly it expresses potency, capacity to produce. This may be expressed in sexual terms (Job 40: 16, Gen 49:3), or it may express the product of the earth's potency (Gen 4:12; Job 31:39; etc.), but usually physical strength is intended, as in the references to Samson (Jud 16:5; etc.). By extension the word comes to connote general ability to cope with situations (Deut 8:17-18; I Chr 29:14; Ezr 10:13; etc.)
When applied to God, this term suggests that he is indeed omnipotent. His power is seen in creation (Jer 10:12; 32:17; etc.), in the Exodus events (Ex 9:16; 15:6; etc.), in his capacity to subdue his enemies (Job 36:19) and deliver his people (Isa 63:1). As compared to his power human strength is nothing (II Chr 20:6; Job 37:23; Ps 33:16; Amos 2:14; etc.). The folly of relying upon human strength alone is seen both in Job and in the story of Samson. He is strongest who has discovered the finite limitations of his own capacities in the light of the limitless resources of God through his Spirit (Job 36:22; Isa 40:31; Mic 3:8; Zech 4:6). (TWOT, 436, 437)
We see, according to v. 9, that the Lord gives the strength to:
A) Produce wealth --- both from the land and personal wealth from one's labour.
B) Strength to act --- both physical and figurative, e.g., moral strength to act.
C) Produce children potency.
D) Cope with situations a general ability to cope.
When God's people mix with the surround heathens their strength is devoured (eaten up, consumed, burned up, fed on, wasted away, destroyed, &c.). The Lord's law against mixing with the surrounding heathen is repeated for new nation of Israel, the Gospel Church, thusly:
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for
what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what
communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ
with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye
are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell
in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall
be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye
separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and
I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall
be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (1 Cor. 6:14-18.)
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (1 Cor. 15:33.)
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (Ja. 4:4.)
Speaking to the New Testament Church, the Spirit warned the Church to walk in holiness. (1 Pet. chaps. 2 & 4.) The new nation of God, the Gospel Church, is warned against mixing with the heathens in Ephesians chapter 5. The Spirit warns that the wrath of God comes upon those who pick up the ways of the heathen. (Vv. 6, 7. See cross ref. for 2 Cor. 6:14, Online Bible.)
We must, accordingly, apply God's promised results from Hosea 7 to the Gospel Church, for the same law applies to both. The warning in both cases is against mixing with the heathen, and against learning and doing the heathen's ways. Doing so robs the new Israel of God, the Gospel Church, of its strength. Sadly, it happens so slowly that the Church knows not that it has happened. The gray hairs are here and there, yet he knoweth it not. As the individuals mixed a little at a time with and absorbed pagan ways, the Church's strength slowly ebbed away, yet he knoweth it not.
Example: The Christian works in a pagan work force, and if he is not careful, he will absorb the "looks" and ways of the heathen. Of course, this goes into every area of life and thought. Instead of the Christian being the holy influence in the world, as he was called to be, the world exercised a pagan influence on him, and his strength is slowly devoured.
We had been away from my dad for several years. When I saw him after those several years, I was surprised at how grey he had become. Grey hair has a way of creeping up on us. We may not notice it because it is so slow, but it is steady, and others will notice it over a period of time.
Hence, compromise mixing with the heathens, learning and doing their ways sacrifices strength:
A) Nation wide, personal income drops.
B) No moral strength to stand against evil.
C) Birth rate drops.
D) Inability to cope with situations. To me, this is probably the most noticeable of all the points today.
Examples: Drugs to solve spiritual problems are very popular, e.g., Prozac. Young kids are major users of Ridlin, a drug to replace godly parenting. Health care is growing by leaps and bounds as physical health deteriorates. (Dateline, September 18, 1998, had an article about "Chinese medicine" --- that is, a series of moves used in China for many hundreds of years to release emotional pressure and cure what ails you. They spoke about how people who practice these moves gain much better physical health. The article was about a woman who tried all that modern medicine has to offer, including having some nerves clipped, to stop great pain. Nothing worked. She started using this ancient Chinese medical practice, and the pain left. The moderator mentioned in passing that the woman had even been involved in "Clinical Depression." He also mentioned that the practice eased the emotional pressure on the participants. In passing, the moderator said of the participants that those who found physical help with the practice had been hurting emotionally; they found this as the answer. It is common knowledge that a great portion of physical problems are emotional, psychosomatic.
In other words, Americans are finding emotional healing with drugs and Oriental religions rather than in worshiping and serving the Creator.
The most obvious result of the Church mixing itself with the surrounding pagans is that the Church has lost its strength to bring about godly social change.
The number of professed Christians who fit the above description is sad they cannot make up their mind who whey want to serve: the gods of this world or the Lord God. And they know not that their strength is gone.
V. 10, despite the many calamities that befell Israel, his pride caused him to refuse to convert to Jehovah (Keil. Isa. 9:13.) They refused to seek help from the only source of help, the Lord. Instead, Israel sought help from the surrounding heathens, particularly Egypt.
Vv. 11, 12, like a silly dove, Israel pays no mind to the net of the "bird-catcher." When pressed, rather than returning to the Lord their god, he seeks help from Egypt, then he seeks help from Assyria. Because his people refuse to return, the Lord will use Asshur as the net to bring his people down to their own chastisement. He used Asshur to turn their freedom into bondage, according to his promise. (1 Sam. 8.)
The silly dove:
1) Returns to the same place, though she might have lost her
2) Is easily enticed by bait into the net, unable to understand her danger. God's people were easily drawn into leagues with pagans to their own ruin.
3) Rather than remaining in safety under her master, flutters about in frustration when threatened. Thus she makes herself easy pray to the devourer. Israel, when threatened, rather than remain is the safety of her Lord, fluttered here and there, to Egypt and Asseria, to her own destruction.
So the people of God: Rather than distresses drawing them closer to the Lord in faith and prayer, they flutter here and there looking for the safety and answers that only the Lord can provide. They are people of no understanding and without heart. (MH.)
Note v. 12: When they go to Egypt, the Lord will spread his net upon them. Those who will not stay where the Lord wants them to be must expect to be pursued by "the justice of God." They will find snares instead of shelters. They will find chastisement, discipline, instead of peace. They will be judged by the word they heard in the congregation, for the spiritual authority watches for their souls. (Heb. 13:17.)
Vv. 13, 14, referring back to the silly dove. God pleaded with his people, yet rather than return to the Lord their God, and seek him, they fled from him in their hour of need. The Lord, therefore, calls for destruction unto them. He would have still redeemed them, but they continued in their lies against him. (Keil.) They fled from God when they forsook the worship of him, ran away from his service and withdrew themselves from their allegiance to him. (MH.) They transgressed against his laws, and thereby cut themselves off from his mercy; they destroyed themselves.
Woe unto them! So no matter what one may do to flee form the wrath to come, he or she cannot escape if one is fleeing from God. "The woes of God's word have real effects; destruction makes them good. The judgments of his hand shall verify the judgments of his mouth. Those whom he curses, and pronounces woeful, they are cursed, they are woeful indeed. " (MH.)
They put on a big show of devotion, but their show was a mockery to God. Their cry to the Lord came not from the heart; rather, it was from their dispar and grief that came upon them for forsaking the Lord. Their good life of corn and wine that came form serving the Lord is over. They assemble themselves not in repentance and conversion, but in rebellion against the Lord --- they are hungry, and their desire is to fill their belly, not to please their God.
Note, Those do not pray to God at all that do not pray in the spirit. Nay, God is so far from approving their prayer and accepting it that he calls it howling. Some think it intimates the noisiness of their prayers (they cried to God as they used to cry to Baal, when they thought he must be awakened), or the brutish violent passions which they vented in their prayers; they snarled at the stone, and howled under the whip, but regarded not the hand. Or it denotes that their hypocritical prayers were so far from being pleasing to God that they were offensive to him; he was angry at their prayers. The songs of the temple shall be howlings, #Am 8:3. God will be so far from pitying them that he will justly laugh at their calamity, who have so often laughed at his authority. (MH)
Public calamities motivated public prayers to God to plead for Divine favor, but they were hypocritical. Their prayers were for corn and wine. Their prayers were not that God would give them repentance, pardon and mercy as they turned from their sins. Their prayers had nothing to do with love and service to the Lord God.
Note, Carnal hearts, in their prayers to God, covet temporal mercies only, and dread and deprecate no other but temporal judgments, for they have no sense of any other. (MH.)
Vv. 15, 16, the Lord taught and strengthened their armies. He gave them the victory over their foes, yet they turned from him to their calves. They robed him of the glory due his name. They turned, but not upwards to the Lord, e.g., Jeremiah 44, the queen of heaven.
Like a deceitful bow, they fail to hit the mark of peace and safety, for they have turned from the Lord. They return, but not to the Lord God. The princes of vv. 3, 5, who, with their lies, encouraged the people in their evil ways shall fall. Their turn to Egypt instead of to the Lord will be their destruction. (Isa. 30:3ff.)
Derision, scorn, mocking. Thus, the Lord will make a mockery of their turn to Egypt for security when they should have turned to him.
They return. They professed repentance, but they "make nothing of it."
If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. (Jer. 4:1.)
Returning to the Lord involves putting away sin. However, their return was like a deceitful bow, promising ability to hit the mark, but totally failing do fulfill its promise.
Note, Those that are treacherous and deceitful in their dealings with God, and passionate and outrageous in their conduct towards men, will justly be made a derision to their neighbours, for they make themselves ridiculous. (MH.)
Conclusion of Section II:
Mixing with the heathens, not necessarily intermarriage, but simple things like picking up their slangs, their manner of dress, their attitudes, their answers to social and emotional problems slowly saps the strength of the Gospel Church. The mixing renders the Church impotent to bring about godly social change.
No doubt one of the most discouraging things I see as a pastor is when folks face distresses of all kinds, they flee to astrologers, doctors, drugs, psychologists and all the world's answers. Their pride prevents them from seeking the Lord through prayer, faith and his word. They would rather suffer the distress and pay the money for the world's answers than convert toward the Lord. They are like a silly dove. The dove knows not how to defend herself and provide for her own safety.~H
Now he lays out his charge against them. His desire was to heal His people not to judge them.
Micah 7:18, he delighteth in mercy not in judgment and vengeance. He delights in His people turning from their sin and to Him so he can "shower" his mercy upon them.
He would have healed his people but the iniquity, wickedness, falsehood, theft, all prevented the healing.
2. He says, "Why don't they understand, I know what goes on in secret." See Ezek. 8:3-12.
Remember the context, 6:6. I looks like they kept up the outward show of piety. They kept up the sacrifices and burnt offerings as they did in Christ's day. (The very thing he did away with they would not give up. The things he did not do away with they wouldn't do, the moral code.)
How like man today. Human nature is just upside down.
They kept up the outward show of spirituality, they know what to do, they had the head knowledge, yet the inside was full of dead mens bones. Destroyed for lack of knowledge. Not a lack of knowing what to do but a lack of connecting the two. Knowing and doing.
The Lord knows the secrets of the heart. He knows what goes on in private when no one else is watching. The public worship is not what impresses Him. Its the private worship which gains His mercy and grace.
He desired to show mercy to them but then he remembered their private motives, actions and gods. These prevented His mercy and instead, reaped as they sowed, Gal. 6.
3. (Rom. 1:31), here civil authority is finding pleasure in wickedness. Right is no longer good. God is no longer rewarded and exalted. Protection of the good man is corrupted.
Now, evil is exalted. The law breaker is protected and the good man ignored.
The civil authority rejoices in iniquity rather than being grieved over it.
They think God doesn't see them or doesn't care. Good is bad and bad is called good. Good is punished and evil is protected, Isa. 10:1; 5:20 and even rewarded.
4. He continues on. The corruption is from the leaders down. Adulterous are out of control. Both spiritual, turning from God and physical, both go together. As society turns from God then adultery goes rampant.
Oven heated, lust and lewdness burns out of control everywhere. There is no place you can look without being confronted with lust and lewdness.
Remember, the controversy isn't wit the heathens but with God's people. They see nothing wrong with lewdness, with taking off their clothes in public, with exposing their bodies and arousing sensual desires in others.
The lust is burning as a fire and the civil authority, rather than doing what it can to put out the fire, is joining hands with those who have the fire.
Ungodliness and wickedness of all kinds is burning in their hearts. They keep up their outward show of piety but inside their hearts burn in lusts of all kinds.
5-7. This burning will not remain under control but it will (has) burst forth and has consumed everyone, even the judges. The very ones who are to keep this corruption under control are controlled by it.
Rather than those ordained by God to keep this corruption under control (the kings, princes, judges and yes, even the priests), controlling it, the corruption is controlling them. They try to keep it covered up and behind closed doors but God knows what lies behind the outward motions of "piety."
They are all hot as an oven and rather than society working to put out this devastating fire they are throwing more fuel upon it.
There is none among them that calleth unto me. Everyone is caught in this. The prophet warns them but no one listens or believes him.
"We keep up our formal worship (v. 3) God doesn't care how I cat or dress on my own time."
Sort of like the military. On duty expected to be totally loyal to the cause. Off duty kind of go your own way. We are to be 'on duty' at all times.
For us: God expose, shows, deals with, your people about:
1.) Their inconsistent lives.
2.) That you are just as concerned with "piety" away from public worship as you are at public worship.